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General premed advice.

PSedrishMDPSedrishMD 601 replies111 threads Member
edited June 2013 in Pre-Med Topics
There's no single formula for getting into med school. In general, getting very good grades (GPA of 3.5 or better) and scoring well on the MCATs (>30) are the most vital pieces of the puzzle.

Where you go to college is usually less important. Folks who go to top-notch undergrad schools will certainly get a bump from the med school adcom, but how much of a bump varies and is not something you'll find in print anywhere. Likewise, low-ranked schools will probably cost the applicant some credibility with the adcom, though this can be mitigated by having had a very good reason for attending a less-than-competitive school. In that case, however, MCATs assume even more importance. As a rule I think it would be fair to say that a 4.0 from a good state school or good LAC will trump a 3.0 from an Ivy or equivalent almost every time. With similar MCATs I think the gap is much narrower than that.

What you major in is pretty much up to you. Medical school adcoms don't want to admit an entire class of biochem majors; indeed the emphasis today is all about people with an interest in helping people, so humanities majors may be just what the doctor ordered! In addition, that opens the door for folks who have been out of college for a few years and have shown a history of public service.
That notwithstanding, you will still have to complete the pre-med "core" of 8 semesters of science at a pre-med level (general, intro courses for non science majors will not do), as well as a little math.

Extra-curriculars are less important than for they are for college, though a varsity athlete may get a little leniency on the GPA, as adcoms realize the enormous time commitment serious athletics can involve. The same break may hold for kids who have had to work their way through college.

More helpful than school-based ECs are community-based activities that demonstrate an interest in helping people. Letters of recommendation are probably a bit less vital, as it is recognized that everyone asks someone who really likes them to write their letters.

Lastly, I would add that there is a new trend popping up: some schools are now offering post baccalaureate courses in just the pre-med requirements. These courses are for students who realize they want to go to med school a bit late in their college years (or even after they've graduated) and now need to undergo the dreaded Organic Chemistry "trial by fire".

The bottom line is, while there's more than one way to skin this cat, you will need good grades and MCATs to be considered.
edited June 2013
1031 replies
Post edited by PSedrishMD on
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Replies to: General premed advice.

  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    I agree wholeheartedly with the above, and I would add the caveat that you should not be expected to be rewarded if you choose an unusually difficult major and/or an unusually difficult school. A lot of people seem to believe that if you take the toughest coursework at the toughest school, that that will impress the med-school adcoms, and they will compensate you for any deficiencies in your GPA. This is a tremendously risky strategy. Many a pre-med student will go to a tough school and majored in something very tough, only to be rejected in favor of another candidate who took easy classes at an easy school. As said above, you gotta get a high GPA, so if that means taking easy classes with lots of grade inflation, so be it. I don't like it, but that's the reality of med-school admissions.
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  • celebrian25celebrian25 15082 replies288 threads Senior Member
    Much of this advice also has to do with law school (subsitute the MCAT for the LSAT of course). Engineering is going to be particularly difficult in either law or med school. I believe sakky has a link to chart concerning MIT and admittance to med school.
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  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    Heck, even better, let's look at the Berkeley chart. Berkeley is not exactly known as a school that gives out easy grades (far from it, in fact), and yet look at the kinds of stats that med-schools demand from admitted Berkeley premeds. I see no evidence that med-schools provide any sort of "GPA-compensation" to Berkeley premeds.

    http://career.berkeley.edu/MedStats/top20.stm

    Here's the MIT premed link. Notice the average GPA of admitted MIT premeds.

    http://web.mit.edu/career/www/infostats/preprof.html#med

    Not to be too inflammatory, but the evidence suggests that med-school adcoms are not all that interested in admitting the hardest-working or the most capable students. What they're really interested in is admitting those students with high grades, whether those students really are the hardest-working or most capable students or not. I think we would all agree that MIT engineers, on average, work harder than almost anybody else, yet med-school adcoms don't seem to care about that, for they still demand the same high grades from those MIT premeds that they demand from premeds from other schools. Some schools and some majors are harder than others, but med-schools don't really care.
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  • Mr. PatelMr. Patel 29 replies2 threads New Member
    I dislike the fact that Under represented students get special treatment.
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  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    Mr. Patel, you're putting words in my mouth. When did I ever say that you had absolutely no shot? Please point to the quote where I specifically said that you had absolutely no shot. Oh, can't do it, can you? That's because I never said it.

    What I did say is that your chances are low. Not zero, but low. The cold harsh reality of premed admissions is that it is very much grade oriented. Your low grades that you had in the beginning of your college career are going to hurt you a lot. There's just no two ways around it. It's a fact. When you apply to round 1, med-schools are going to see your consolidated GPA and then make a decision about whether they should send you a round-2 application, and many of them are going to decide not to. That's basically an automatic rejection right there. And even for those who do send you a round 2 app, you are going to be competing against lots of students with completely pristine GPA's. That's a tough row to hoe. Is it impossible? It is not impossible. Is it going to be tough? Yes it is, and you would be doing yourself a disservice if you told yourself otherwise.
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  • Mr. PatelMr. Patel 29 replies2 threads New Member
    Don't they look at the Cumulative GPA? Why the hell would they care about how I did my first year of college?
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  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    They do look at your cumulative GPA - and you yourself have admitted that yours won't look that good. Again, I refer you to the statistics about MIT premeds - the average MIT premed who successfully got into at least 1 med-school had an average GPA of 3.7/4. You yourself have admitted that your cumulative GPA will never be that high.
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  • Mr. PatelMr. Patel 29 replies2 threads New Member
    I have never said my cumulative GPA will never be as good as the MIT grads. I said if I maintain my GPA 3.80 at UIUC, than my cumulative GPA will be 3.61, which is good enough to get me into an in-state med school like SIU .(which is very well recognized in the nation too.)
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  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    Oh? Are you presuming that all you have to do is get the grades, and you will automatically be admitted?

    Ok, let's assume for the moment that everything you say will happen and you will end up with a 3.61. I just looked it up - the admission rate of the SIU Medical School is about 17%. Hence, you yourself will have to concede that you are probably not going to get admitted to SIU, because most people who apply (83%) do not get in. You might get in - but the odds say that you probably won't.

    So let's say that you don't get into SIU (which is more than likely). What other med-schools do you think you're going to be able to get into?

    At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if MIT premeds need a 3.7/4 to get in, and you yourself have concede that you're not going to have those kinds of grades or graduate from a school with the prestige of MIT, then what exactly do you have that makes you better than all those MIT premeds who got rejected from every single med-school they applied to? If you don't have anything, then you have to concede that your chances are low. Not zero, but low.
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  • Mr. PatelMr. Patel 29 replies2 threads New Member
    h? Are you presuming that all you have to do is get the grades, and you will automatically be admitted?

    Ok, let's assume for the moment that everything you say will happen and you will end up with a 3.61. I just looked it up - the admission rate of the SIU Medical School is about 17%. Hence, you yourself will have to concede that you are probably not going to get admitted to SIU, because most people who apply (83%) do not get in. You might get in - but the odds say that you probably won't.

    So let's say that you don't get into SIU (which is more than likely). What other med-schools do you think you're going to be able to get into?

    At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if MIT premeds need a 3.7/4 to get in, and you yourself have concede that you're not going to have those kinds of grades or graduate from a school with the prestige of MIT, then what exactly do you have that makes you better than all those MIT premeds who got rejected from every single med-school they applied to? If you don't have anything, then you have to concede that your chances are low. Not zero, but low.
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  • Mr. PatelMr. Patel 29 replies2 threads New Member
    ^^^sorry about that, I was trying to quote you. But anyways why do you constantly compare me with the MIT grads? Not everyone is alike. They didn't get in, thats they're bad luck.
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  • celebrian25celebrian25 15082 replies288 threads Senior Member
    it's not bad luck you know. Bad luck isn't a pattern, this is a pattern.
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  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    Why do I constantly compare you to MIT grads? Ok, so who do you want me to compare you against? At the end of the day, you have to compare yourself to people who were actually successful in getting in. If you think that the MIT data should not be used as a frame of reference, then fair enough, then why don't you suggest a difference frame of reference. But it has to be a useful one - it has to actually illustrate the sort of statistics that it really takes to get in.

    And celebrian25 said it faster than I did. Bad luck is where a few people end up with an unusual result. If it was the case that one or two MIT premeds with strong qualifications got rejected everywhere, that would indeed be bad luck. But it's not bad luck, because it's consistent. It's a pattern. The MIT premed data, and for that matter, the premed data from any school consistently shows that it is extremely difficult to get admitted into any US medical school.

    Look, how do you respond to the fact that SIU Medical only admits 17% of its applicants? Does that mean that the 83% of applicants who got rejected are suffering from "bad luck"? If so, then, man, that's a lot of bad luck that's been going around there.
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  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    Oh? Are you taking MIT premeds for dolts? You really think that MIT premeds are so arrogant and/or so stupid that they would only apply to the major-league med-schools? Believe me, you don't have to worry that MIT premeds don't know the odds. They know fully well that the odds are difficult and consequently all of them apply to lesser medical schools just like everybody else does (or should), and the fact is, many of those MIT premeds don't make it into those lesser medical schools either. Again, if you look at the numbers, a 3.7/4 is the GPA of the average MIT premed who made it into ANY medical school. Not just the famous ones, but any medical school. Yes, many of them are applying to big-name medical schools like HMS but that doesn't explain why the average successful MIT premed to get into ANY medical school is a 3.7, unless you are seriously saying that they really are so arrogant or so stupid as to think that they don't need to apply to a safety school. Since we're talking about MIT people, I think we can safely rule out the possibility that they're stupid, so the only thing you have left is that you are saying that they are arrogant. Is that what you're saying? But then again, arrogance is just another form of stupidity, in that you stupidly think you're better than you really are, and I rather think that MIT premeds are neither stupid nor stupidly arrogant.

    It's not a matter of bad luck, it's not a matter of arrogance or stupidity, but that it's very difficult to get into med-school, even the ones that aren't famous. There is no such thing as a 'safety' medical school - even the lesser ones are still extremely difficult to get into. Again, take your beloved SIU Medical. You saw it yourself, the admissions percentage was about 17%. So even if you do manage to get yourself a 3.61, which would be 0.05 above the average admitted student at SIU, what do you think your chances of getting admitted into SIU are? I would say at very most 1/3 (33%). Just because you have a certain GPA does not guarantee you admission to SIU, or even make it likely. If you were to ask the SIU adcom, they would admit that they've rejected some candidates with 4.0's. The overall reject rate is 83%, and the average incoming GPA is 3.56, which basically means that even if everything you said will happens turns out to happen, the odds are, you still will probably be rejected. And if you are, what then? If you are rejected at SIU, which you have to admit according to the odds will probably happen, where will you turn?
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  • PSedrishMDPSedrishMD 601 replies111 threads Member
    Sakky: I of course agree with you on the facts presented, but I'd prefer we keep the tone here more mellow and that we not get personal.
    Self delusion, however, is permitted.
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  • sakkysakky - 14561 replies196 threads Senior Member
    I don't think I have gotten personal. If you read my posts in context, you should notice that I never directed a single jab at anybody specifically.

    However, I do got frustrated when people come to a discussion board supposedly seeking advice, but in reality having already made up their minds about what they are going to do, and are just looking for somebody to be their cheerleader and their yes-man. I won't do it.
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  • Mr. PatelMr. Patel 29 replies2 threads New Member
    If you think thats the only shool (SIU) I'm going to apply or even have the slightest possible chance of being accpeted, you're a moron. Look, I know I asked for your opinion, and thats your opnion... now if your that arrogant to even say I have little or no chance to get into a med school you're an ignorant fool. Taking the low GPA of 3.61, which could probably be even higher, and couple that with a 36 MCAT score and I haave jsut as good a chance as anyone.
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  • Mr. PatelMr. Patel 29 replies2 threads New Member
    Correction: ignorant not arrogant.
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  • Cash'dCash'd 137 replies21 threads Junior Member
    PSedrishMD, would you be able to comment on my chances? I'm not sure if you didn't catch my post earlier...here are the stats:

    - GPA: 3.86 unweighted, 4.15-4.2 weighted (15 AP's and honors - toughest)
    - SAT I: 1500; SAT ii's: 750s on 2 of them
    - Cycling Team (7 hrs/week/every week of the year)
    - Speech and Debate Team (5 hrs/week/35 weeks)
    - Around 500 hours of community service, helping day workers and using Spanish skills to translate what they're saying (I'm not from Mexico though) and also time at Hospital
    - Advanced Percussion (3 hrs/week/every week of the year)
    - Started an organization (internationally recognized) which helps needy children in my homeland of India. The organization's helped ~50-100 needy kids with college scholarships. Currently, the organization is moving to also provide clothing, medicine, general funds for disadvantaged youth. Started the non-profit organization by myself. It takes up about 20-25 hours/week and occassional trips to the country since there's about 10 part-time employees in the organization - This is pretty much my biggest EC and 'hook' for the colleges, in my opinion.

    Could I get into any programs and if so, which ones? (I really want to go to George Washington University's program)
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  • PSedrishMDPSedrishMD 601 replies111 threads Member
    Your numbers are of course very good and I'm sure you're going to be competitive at most places. Good luck!
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